Ministerial Flourishing: Exploring Meaning, Means and Practices

Date(s) - 10/13/2019 - 10/18/2019
All Day

The Cliffs at Possum Kingdom


Ministerial Flourishing: Exploring Meaning, Means and Practices

Feeling tired and disconnected from what called you to ministry?  Do your days continue to provide meaningful work? Are you struggling to improve the quality of your daily life? Or are you seeking a time for personal reflection on what comes next?  This week-long residential workshop is designed for mid-career clergy interested in exploring the different facets of personal and professional flourishing and in developing strategies for increasing one’s resiliency.

What do Values and Story Care have to do with flourishing?

Ministry can be both exhilarating and exhausting. While you as a pastoral leader have opportunities to bring good news, the expectation to over-work and be consistently present is normalized. You as a pastor are often encouraged to ignore your own life in the service of others. These dynamics can be particularly challenging in the midst of change and routinely lead to burnout. Clarity about what it looks like and feels like when you are thriving and specifics about how to achieve your own and others’ thriving can encourage and sustain you in your vocation.

Our stories and the values inherent in them significantly shape who we are, how we live, and how we practice ministry.  The convictions we hold about loving God, self, and the relationship between these is primarily communicated to us through stories we inherit from our families, our congregations, and our culture.  Do the stories we live by allow us to care for ourselves as well as others? Do our stories of call help us flourish in ministry or leave us floundering?

Who should apply

This workshop is designed for mid-career clergy serving in congregations and other settings of ministry who are interested in building the resiliency skills needed to successfully meet the stress of ministry by exploring different facets of personal and professional flourishing and developing strategies for increasing one’s flourishing.

Workshop Description

This workshop employs two approaches to lay a foundation for understanding the connection between our values, our stories, and the ways they support/inhibit our flourishing.  An assessment tool explores and clarifies our deepest commitments, how they influence us and the way we lead, and identifies potential areas of growth.  Keeping these values in mind, we engage the questions above by considering  a close reading of our own life stories. By exegeting our life stories, we can identify those which sustain us and those which do not. We will learn practices of flourishing, including re-storying, practicing love, self-compassion, and honoring the body as steps toward creating a sustaining story of life and ministry that moves us toward flourishing.

Methods of instruction include introductions to values assessment and to narrative practices of care, small group work, as well as journaling and reflective writing.  Participants are asked take an online assessment and to read Karen Scheib’s Attend to Story: How to Flourish in Ministry (Foundery Press, 2018) prior to attending.  The cost of both is included in the registration fee.

Workshop Structure

The workshop begins Sunday evening with dinner and ends mid-afternoon on Friday.  Sessions consisting of instruction, small-group work, journaling, and personal reflections will be interspersed with open time for relaxation.

Two Opportunities – Dates, Locations and Cost:

Fall – October 13-18, 2019 at The Cliffs Resort on Possum Kingdom Lake, TX
Spring – April 19-24, 2020 at Camp Allen Conference and Retreat Center, Navasota, TX


To make this opportunity available to all, the cost is based on a sliding scale related to the size of the congregation’s or agency’s budget.

Church budget > 400,000 $225
Church budget 200,000 to 400,000 $150
Church budget < 200,000 $75

Registration includes lodging, meals, workshop, assessment tool, a copy of Attend to Stories: How to Flourish in Ministry, and up to 2 hours consultation with Dr. McClure.

How to Apply:

Applications are now being accepted at or email or call 817-257-7582.  Successful applicants will be notified no later than one month before the workshop start date.  Registration fees will be paid upon acceptance into the workshop.  Space is limited and the workshops are expected to fill quickly.

Application deadlines:

October Workshop – September 6, 2019
April Workshop – March 13, 2020

Dr. Barbara McClure (“Bar”) teaches pastoral theology and practice at Brite Divinity School.  She has been exploring the flourishing life for more than twenty years: What is human flourishing? What does flourishing look and feel like? What might it take to flourish? What difference does it make if we flourish or not? What would it take for us all to flourish? Bar has led many classes, workshops, and retreats on the topic, bringing clarity to participants about flourishing (or lack thereof) in their own lives and helping them find ways forward to deeper, richer vocations. She is currently finishing a book on the topic: Emotions and Human Flourishing, to be published next year.

Dr. Karen Scheib is Professor of Pastoral Care and Pastoral Theology at Candler School of Theology at Emory University.  She is the author of Attend to Stories: How to Flourish in Ministry (Foundery Press, 2018), Pastoral Care: Telling the Stories of Our Lives (Abingdon Press, 2016) and Challenging Invisibility: Practices of Care with Older Women (Chalice Press 2004), as well as a number of book chapters and journal articles. She was ordained as an elder in the United Methodist Church in 1982 and previously served as a pastor, hospital chaplain, pastoral counselor.  For the last twenty-five years she has taught pastoral theology and care. Her research interests include narrative practices of care, the role of creativity and imagination in pastoral care, creative writing as a healing and spiritual practice, congregational and multi-cultural practices of care, and the relationship of faith and health.